We’ve all had moments where it feels like we’ll live or die by our internet connection. Whether it’s a client who need a file right away, or you need to fix your fantasy lineup because your star player got hurt 2 minutes before game time – the Wi-Fi connection in your home will either save or ruin your day, and everything from the fridge to holiday decorations can contribute to a lousy connection.
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Here are seven of the most common connection killers.
1. The Microwave
If you just popped a bag of popcorn in your microwave to chow down while catching up on your favorite series, you may want to wait until it’s popped until hitting that play button. This is because both your Wi-Fi signal and microwave oven operate on the same frequency, which is 2.4 GHz. Every microwave should be properly shielded so it doesn’t leak any radiation, but the fact is, just about all of them leak enough to cause electromagnetic or radiofrequency interference. Before you freak out about your microwave leaking radiation, rest assure these frequencies are nowhere close to the ionizing radiation that can be harmful to people or pets. It’s more like a radio signal, and yes, your Wi-Fi signal – although it’s broadcasting at a higher frequency than a traditional radio does. This interference, at 2.4GHz, can be caused by devices like your router, baby monitors, cordless landline phones, and just about any Bluetooth device you can think of. Less common sources of the same interference can come from toaster ovens, heating pads, electric blankets, electric bug zappers, and touch-controlled lighting. The best fix for this is to use Wi-Fi equipment that uses the 5GHz frequency on the 802.11n network. Your router may also have a setting for auto channel, but that’s designed to separate multiple Wi-Fi signals and may not work as well as simply using a more modern router.
Drones and other remote control toys, Many of these toys talk to the remote on you’re using on that 2.4GHz frequency I just told you about. Not all models will cause this interference, but more powerful and long-range devices can. The fix for this, in addition to having an updated router – is just don’t play with your drone while streaming stranger things at the same time. Easy peasy.
3. Decorative Lights
The string lights you use for decoration in the party could be the reason you can’t stream that awesome party song playlist you spent hours and hours on! These lights use special “sparking” chips that will generate a magnetic field that interacts with various radio frequencies being broadcast by your router. Now, you don’t want to ruin the mood you created with your cool lights, so the best fix for this one is to just try and keep your router as far from the lights as you can.
4. The Fridge
It sure doesn’t seem like that there is any kitchen appliance that won’t mess up your internet. An overall rule is that electric appliances that use pipes and circulate water are not so nice your Wi-Fi signal. This is because water can retain energy from wireless waves, which can mess up your connection. So yeah – that means your clothes washer and dishwasher, too. If you’re having a tough time refreshing your social media feed in the kitchen or laundry room – now you know why.
Mirror mirror, on the wall. Who has the most selfie likes of them all? Good luck trying to find out if your router is behind a mirror. The same reflective mirror that helps us check our hair also reflects the signal coming from the router. As a result, it can cause the signal to bounce off of it as it acts as a shield Mirror can make the signal seem slow and unstable.
6. Brick Walls
So this one won’t have as simple of a fix because chances are if your house or apartment has brick and stone walls, they’re probably there for a reason. You know, like to make the building a building. The most common building material that can keep you from having a reliable internet connection are marble, cement, concrete, plaster and, as I already mentioned, brick. This is why, in 2 story houses, someone will usually have an extremely weak connection on one of the floors, depending on which one your router is on. One way to help avoid this is to place your router in a more open area of your home, away from any walls at all. This isn’t always ideal, but can be a solution if the materials your home is built with are keeping you from having a strong connection.
You may have more of this around than you think. Metal fixtures, utility shelves and the like can all give your Wi-Fi a rough time. Metal is a conductor, so it absorbs electricity, and as you recall, a Wi-Fi signal is made of radio and electromagnetic waves. So, any metal surface or object in your home keeps the waves from getting around the house. For the best signal possible, make sure your router isn’t placed on a metal shelf or is blocked by any metal furniture. Now, everyone’s set up at home is different.